"I still remember the first day you came to the ranch," she whispered, sliding her right hand down to the small of his back, her left palm resting on his shoulder. "I was just twelve years old and you a worldly wise teenager of thirteen. We were both shy and a little awkward..."

Her voice trailed off, her gaze following his across the plains of Hyrule. He was leaning on the balcony railing, deliberately keeping his face turned away so she wouldn't have to witness the battle of emotions that was sweeping across his features. She wished he would turn and face her, let her witness his internal struggle so she could ease his burden, but knew he needed more time. She rested her chin on his shoulder, her arms encircling his waist as she continued her story, confident he would make the right decision when the time came.

"I didn't quite know what to make of you, this strange little fairy boy with his elfin features and funny clothes, but I knew I could trust you because Epona did."

He turned his head to the side, a sly smile on his face, his lips pressing briefly against her cheek before again turning towards the vast, empty plain; the rolling black clouds once more drawing his eye. She breathed deeply, the fresh, clean scent of impending rain filling her senses. Exhaling slowly, her cheek tingling where his lips had touched, she pressed closer to him.

"I taught you our song, Epona's song, just as my mother had taught it to me years before. When you left I knew I'd see you again, that our paths, our destinies, were entwined – though I didn't know when or why."

A sigh escaped her as she caressed his muscular stomach through the thin white shirt that he wore, her fingers deftly tracing the contours she knew so well.

"It was seven years, almost to the day, before I saw you again. I recognised you at once, not by that all too familiar tunic but by the distinctive hue of your eyes. You saved me that day from a fate worse than death and you've been saving me every day since..."

He turned to face her just as the rain began to fall, big, fat drops thudding on the roof overhead. His arms encircled her waist, holding her close. He rubbed his nose against hers, soft Eskimo kisses, delaying the words he knew were about to come. He squeezed his eyes shut, a single tear escaping as he did. She raised her hand to cup his face, her thumb tracing the smooth, damp plane of his cheek. The words caught in her throat and she swallowed fiercely before forcing them out.

"You have to go - other people need you now. It's time for you once again to show the world the hero that you are. It's not right and it's not fair but it's how it must be."

She leant forward and kissed him; a soft gentle brush of the lips that was in no way enough to satisfy the desire inside her. But it was all she dared risk - anymore and she'd never be able to let him go...

A flash of lightning illuminated his pale features, the subsequent roll of thunder a death knoll they'd both hoped would never come. His hands clasped hers, squeezing briefly.

"It's time..."

***

A/N: There was another chapter to this but as I haven't had time to complete this story I've removed it and am going to leave this as a oneshot until I have time to give it the attention it deserves... :)